Arrest made in human-caused Jacob City wildfire

Jacob City Fire. Photo: Utah Fire Info

TOOELE COUNTY, Utah, July 12, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — Stockton police arrested Gary Carr for reckless burning and reckless endangerment in connection with the Jacob City Fire, which has now burned more than 4,000 acres.

“Carr called 911 on July 9 around 2:28pm to report that his generator had caught fire and spread to nearby trees,” says a statement released by the Stockton Police Department. “Despite efforts from first responders and firefighters on scene, this fire grew quickly, becoming the Jacob City Fire.”

Stockton Police investigators, and fire investigators with Utah Department of Natural Resources and Bureau of Land Management, responded to investigate.

“The burn patterns, and other physical evidence at the scene did not match up with Carr’s initial statements,” the police statement says. “Stockton Police secured a search warrant to seize the trailer and generator. Stockton Police then interviewed witnesses, firefighters first on scene, and civilians driving by minutes later.

“On July 12, Stockton Police and BLM Fire Investigators interviewed Carr. He admitted that on the afternoon of July 9, he plugged in a circular saw into a recently purchased refurbished ‘like new’ generator. The saw cord had been cut, then spliced and taped back together.

“During use, the saw got extremely hot, so Carr set it down on the back of the RV, which happened to be next to a sealed gas can. The investigators reported outside temperature (was) 103 degrees. Carr then plugged the RV into the generator and went inside.”

Firefighters work to contain the rapidly growing Jacob City Fire burning east of Stockton in Tooele County. The fire, which was first reported about 3 p.m. Saturday, July 9, 2022, burned 2,100 acres by 8 p.m. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Stockton Utah Police Department

Approximately 10 minutes later, Carr heard a loud pop, followed by hissing noises, the Stockton Police statement says.

“He ran outside to find the top of the generator on fire, as well as the surrounding trees. He attempted to put water on the generator fire; however, the gas from the exploded can accelerated the fire. Carr attempted to dig the fire out, and in his haste tossed burning sage and embers under the RV, where another full 5-gallon gas can was located. The spreading of burning embers, and the now heated gas can, caused the RV to also catch fire. Carr then called 911.

“Due to his negligent behavior, Carr was arrested and charged with Reckless Burning and Reckless Endangerment. He was booked into the Tooele County Jail without incident, and the charges will be sent to the Tooele County Attorney.”

The SPD statement says, “Negligence does not release a party from responsibility and consequences of an incident that occurs due to his/her actions. Members of the public need to be aware of current conditions while recreating on public lands. Special precautions should be taken to prevent wildfires from occurring.”

The department offered the following tips:

  • Be mindful in general when recreating outdoors, especially during fire season.
  • Use caution when operating equipment that can create heat or sparks. When using equipment outdoors, have on hand fire extinguishers, adequate water, and hand tools. These activities should be avoided during peak heat hours.
  • Check equipment for faulty wiring or damage before use, as this has potential to short-circuit.
  • Do not place recently used tools or equipment next to fuel sources or dry vegetation. The heat from the equipment can easily combust, becoming an accelerant.
  • Keep fuel stored in a shaded area, away from any potential ignition sources or equipment.
  • If a fuel fire occurs, adding water will accelerate the fire.
  • Extra precaution should be taken when recreating during extreme temperatures, high wind events, and low relative humidity. This is even more important on Red Flag Warning days.

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